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Parent Errol Clarke headbutts mother and knocks child, 3, unconscious in row outside Shatterlocks Infants and Nursery School

By Paul Hooper

A thug smashed his head into a woman because of a row between their primary school children... knocking her into a terrified three-year-old child.

The youngster, a pupil at a Dover infants school, was then knocked unconscious in the melee.

But the man who carried out the two attacks, who had boasted he had done time for manslaughter, walked from Canterbury Crown Court with just a suspended prison sentence.

Shatterlocks infants school
Shatterlocks infants school

The judge ruled the attacker had acted recklessly and the child "was just in the way".

Dad-of-three Errol Clarke, of Anglers Drive, Sholden, had pleaded guilty to assaulting Vanessa Hammond causing her actual bodily harm and the assault by beating of the child.

Prosecutor Donna East said the incident was witnessed by teachers, parents and pupils at the Shatterlocks Infants and Nursery School in Heathfield Avenue.

She told how Ms Hammond and her partner Jamie Kemp had a run in with Clarke over their young children.

On January 24 the victim was dropping off her child with Mr Kemp at 11.45am, because of previous incidents between the two families.

“Ms Hammond had made allegations that Clarke’s son had been involved in bullying her son. As a result the school had barred by families from actually entering the school premises in an effort to keep matters in check.”

She said Ms Hammond and her partner saw Clarke talking to a teacher Maria Swaffer and “they noticed he was being verbally abusive and appeared to be arguing,” said the prosecutor.

Clarke was then seen to wave a piece of paper around, believed to
have been the banning order, and shouted: “You can have that back!”

He then said: “Anyone who has got a problem with me you can say it to my f***** face!”

Mr Kemp then retorted: “I have a problem because you are upsetting my missus.”

Judge Nigel Van Der Bijl. Picture: Chris Davey
Judge Nigel Van Der Bijl. Picture: Chris Davey

Clarke then walked away shouting: “You and your mates can come to Hillside. I’m not scared of anyone. You can bring all your little mates. I’ve just done 12 years for manslaughter.”

Ms East said Clarke then abruptly returned and walked up to Ms Hammond and “without any provocation” headbutted her in the face.

“This caused her to fall backwards and as she was later to discover she bumped into the three year old who was with his mother.

"The youngster banged his head on the floor and momentarily lost consciousness.

“As a direct consequence of the defendant headbutting Ms Hammond, she in turn fell on the child. It was an indirect assault.”

Both victims were taken to hospital for treatment and Ms Hammond feared her nose – which was bleeding – was broken.

But the headbutt was so hard it loosened her teeth and she has suffered problems since the attack.

“She was in complete agony and hadn’t realised that she had been

"She was also left with a wound inside her mouth and she had to wear a splint for her teeth, “ she added.

The case was heard at Canterbury Crown Court
The case was heard at Canterbury Crown Court

Clarke was quizzed by police and said he had problems with Ms Hammond over her bullying allegations, which he claimed led to his son being vindicated after an inquiry.

He said the argument had been started by the couple and “he then saw red” and attacked Ms Hammond.

Clarke said he regretted the three year old being injured and had now moved away and his child is also attending another school.

The prosecutor said that although Clarke had numerous previous convictions there was no evidence he had ever been convicted of manslaughter.

Kieran Brand, defending, said there had been “bad feeling” between the two sides since last year because of the bullying allegations.

“There were then arguments between then almost on a daily basis, despite them both given different times to drop their children off at school.

"It was distasteful, it was serious and it was an ugly incident" - Kieran Brand, defending

“This day it was more of the same and he just saw red after comments made by Mr Kemp but he then lashed out at her.

"It was distasteful, it was serious and it was an ugly incident.

“It was never his intention that any child should have got caught in the crossfire.

"It was a momentary loss of control which caused him to act in this shameful manner.”

Clarke was given a 12-month jail sentence suspended for two years, ordered to do 150 hours of unpaid work and told to stay away from the families of the victims for five years.

Judge Nigel Van Der Bijl told him: “Had this been a direct attack on this children it would have been a totally different situation.

“But it is recognised that you were acting recklessly and the child was, in a sense, was in the way and the injury was as a result of that.”

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